Fans of iconic musician Prince are keeping his memory alive. It’s been nearly four years since the artist’s untimely death, but those who loved him know his spirit couldn’t be stopped by mortality. Photographer Randee St. Nicholas remembers Prince’s one-of-a-kind life, both as a friend and collaborator.
“I wasn’t expecting to get the intimacy that I did right from the first shoot,” Randee says of Prince, whom she first worked with in 1991. The two would go on to form a partnership that lasted over 25 years. She celebrates that special connection in her new book, My Name Is Prince.
“There was a lot of lessons I learned over this journey, about him,” she said. “You always knew he was profound. You always knew that he was a genius. But I don’t think any of us had time to reflect on the gifts that came from working with him creatively, first of all, because there were no restrictions. It was like being in the most amazing film school with no limitations.”
“You could just go wild,” she continued. “And he would stay up all day and night, so you never stopped shooting. That was kind of a wonderful experience, too.”
While wonderful, it wasn’t always easy. “We were just there working and trying to keep up with him because he was like the Energizer bunny. He never slept or ate and he was just creating all the time, so you never had time to think about what you were doing. But he was shy and he was mysterious, he had that darkness too,” she noted. “I think he was on a spiritual path always, not religiously, but just a path of enlightenment. Truly, he was one of the most zen people I know.”
Randee recalled Prince showing her the infamous Chappelle’s Show skit where Dave Chappelle does an imitation of Prince challenging Charlie Murphy and friends to a basketball game. She said he thought it was hilarious and had a great sense of humor about such things.
“Knowing him one on one and spending time with him, you get this sense that you are seriously in the presence of someone who is otherworldly,” she recalled.
Prince was 57 years old when he died of an accidental overdose in Minnesota. The world mourned his passing with buildings lit up in his signature purple, reflecting on the artist’s tremendous impact and an unforgettable legacy.